COVID-19 InformationInformation and Updates for Community Members

Contact Information

4300 E. River Rd NE
Rochester, Mn 55906 (Map)

Phone: 507-328-2450
Fax: 507-328-2451

Mon-Fri 8:00 am to 4:00 pm

Department Contacts


Snow and Ice Control

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The City of Rochester’s Public Works Department operates a fleet of snow plows that works to clear over 500 miles of roads, 9 miles of alleys, 544 cul-de-sacs, 40 miles of sidewalks and bike paths within the city limits of Rochester. This is no easy task and is a balance of safety, economics, timing and expectations. Effective snow removal creates safer roads for the traveling public and provides access for emergency vehicles during the winter snow and ice season.

On this page: 

What to expect for clearing city streets

Prioritization of snow removal operations increases efficiency and provides a systematic approach to snow removal throughout the City of Rochester. Streets in Rochester are categorized as follows:

  • Priority 1: Arterial and collector roads
    High-traffic main roadways with a high traffic volume and higher probability of accidents. These are also critical to provide access for emergency services.
  • Priority 2: Local roads, transit routes, schools, and hills
    Main residential through streets with lead to arterial and collector roads as well as city transit routes, steep hills and areas around schools.
  • Priority 3: Cul-de-sac streets, alleys and dead ends
    These streets have the lowest traffic volume.
  • Coming soon: map of street priority designations

The amount of time it takes to clear streets is dependent upon the amount of snow we receive.

  • Less than 2" of snow: A partial plow event that typically takes 8 hours   
    • Priority 1 roads are cleared
    • Priority 2 roads are cleared       
    • Roads are not cleared to full width
    • Partial crew of operating 21 plow trucks, 2-3 pick-up trucks and two sidewalk machines
  • Snow events of more than 4": A full plow event that typically takes 12 hours 
    • Priority 1 roads are a priority to clear during the snow event
    • Priority 2 roads are a priority to clear during the snow event
    • Priority 3 roads/areas are cleared after the snow event ends
    • Roads are cleared to the full width
    • A full crew operating 28 plow trucks, 4 graders, 5 loaders, 3 one-ton trucks to clear cul-de-sacs, 2-3 pick-up trucks, and 2 sidewalk machines.
  • Snow removal from Central Business District (CBD)
    • Snow typically needs to be hauled out of the CBD after individual snowfalls in excess of 3" or after multiple smaller snowfalls. This work is done once all other streets have been cleared to their full width and typically takes 2-4 days to complete, depending on accumulation.

Use of salt and sand on City streets

The excessive use of salt has major environmental impacts. Not only can salt harm grass and other landscaping, stormwater runoff will carry deicing salts to nearby waterways where it will be a pollutant. It only takes one tablespoon of salt to permanently contaminate 5 gallons of water. Thus, salt is used sparingly on main roads and at main intersections to allow safe passage. The effectiveness of salt when the pavement surface temperature is below 15⁰F is dramatically reduced. The use of a salt-sand mixture also has many implications associated with its use. Any salt-sand mix that gets placed on streets has to get swept up by City crews each spring. This requires a lot of manpower, equipment and results in real costs. Salt-sand mix is typically used in low temperatures or where traction is needed such as hills, sharp curves and intersections.

Why does the city pre-treat roads with a salt-brine solution? Click here for a video on why this pre-treatment is an effective tool. (Note: The City of Rochester only uses liquid brine before a storm, not during or after a storm. Historically we have found it to create more icy spots rather than melting ice.)

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Parking on city streets in winter

  • Alternate side parking is in effect from October 1 to May 1 from 2am to 3pm. These restrictions apply to city-wide. On even calendar days, vehicles can park on the even side of the street. On odd days, vehicles can park on the odd side of the street. Vehicles parked in a cul-de-sac must follow alternate side parking. Click here to learn more about parking in winter on City Streets
  • Street parking in the Central Business District (CBD) is restricted to facilitate the plowing and removal of snow during designated snow events. All parking restrictions will be posted on impacted meters and drivers are responsible for adhering to the restrictions. Click here for a map of the impacted areas.

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Concerns related to city snow plows

  • City plow has damaged the boulevard or mailbox
    • Mailbox damage is an unfortunate consequence of snowplowing. The public works department will inspect each mailbox damage claim. Click here for contact information.
      • If there is physical evidence that the mailbox was struck by a plow (as confirmed by city staff), the property owner has two options: 
        • The city will replace the mailbox with a standard mailbox and (if necessary) a 4x4 decay resistant post in conformance with USPS guidelines.
        • The owner can replace the mailbox and/or post and the city will reimburse up to the amount listed in the current fee schedule. The new mailbox and installation shall comply with USPS guidelines.
    • Plow operators make every effort to avoid damage to boulevard areas while performing snow removal. The boulevard area on most streets is part of the City right-of-way which extends approximately 10 to 15 feet behind the curb. The intent of the right of way is to provide room for snow storage, utilities and sidewalks. Lawns that are scraped or gouged by City equipment will be repaired by top dressing and seeding. Other items in the right-of-way including landscape timbers, shrubs, flowers, other landscaping, sprinkler heads, etc. will not be repaired by the City. Boulevard damage must be reported by May 15, annually. Click here for contact information.
  • The snow plow damaged or spilled the garbage/recycling container
    • Per City ordinance, “containers shall be placed adjacent to but not in the traveled portion of the right of way”.  Containers should be placed in the driveway or boulevard and promptly removed once collected (within 24 hours of collection). It is the responsibility of the resident to make sure containers are located so as to not interfere with snow removal. Damaged or tipped over containers as a result of improper placement are not the responsibility of the City to repair or cleanup.

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Streets cleared by other entities

Not all roads within the City of Rochester are the responsibility of city plows to clear. The list below clarifies jurisdiction over some of the major roadways that don't belong to the city.

Minnesota Department of Transportation - District 6 (507-286-7500)

  • Highway 52
  • Highway 14/12th Street E from Highway 52 to the city limits
  • South Broadway (Highway 63 South) from 28th Street SE to the city limits

Olmsted County Public Works (507-328-7070)

  • Multi-quadrant
    • East Circle Drive (CSAH 22) from Highway 14 to North Broadway
    • West Circle Drive (CSAH 22) from Highway 52 to Highway 52/Highway 14
    • North Broadway (CSAH 33) from 37th Street NW to 48th Street NE
    • 48th Street NE/55th Street NW (CSAH 22) from North Broadway to Highway 52
  • Northeast quadrant
    • Viola Road NE (CSAH 22) from East Circle Drive NE to the city limits
  • Northwest quadrant
    • Valleyhigh Road NW (CSAH 4) from West Circle Drive to the city limits
  • Southeast quadrant
    • 11th Avenue SE (CSAH 1) from Highway 14/12th Street SE to Highway 52
    • 4th Street SE/College View Road E (CSAH 9) from 19th Avenue SE to the city limits
    • Marion Road SE (CSAH 36) from Highway 14/12th Street SE to the city limits
    • St. Bridget Road SE (CSAH 20) from 40th Street SE to the city limits
    • 40th Street SE (CSAH 20) from Highway 52 to St. Bridget Road SE
    • 20th Street SE (CR 143) from Marion Road to the city limits
  • Southwest quadrant
    • Salem Road SW (CSAH 34) from West Circle Drive to the city limits
    • Bamber Valley Road SW (CSAH 8) from West Circle Drive to the city limits
    • 2nd Street SW/Country Club Road (CSAH 34) from West Circle Drive to the city limits
    • Mayowood Road SW (CR 125) from 16th Street SW to Salem Road SW

Township Roads

  • 40th Street SW from 11th Avenue SW to the city limits
  • 60th Avenue NW from Valley High Road NE to 65th Street NW

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Snow and Ice Management Policy

Click the link to view the Snow and Ice Management Policy for the City of Rochester (Last updated September 16, 2019).